I get pitched a lot of guest posts. And most of them, are absolutely terrible.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m working on doing more guest posts.. As I was preparing my list of people I wanted to approach, and how I planned to go about doing it, there was something just gnawing at the back of my mind.
To be honest, I’m surprised at how bad most pitches are. It seems like a very simple concept, yet most people don’t seem to have grasped it.
I’ve sent thousands of people to Ramit’s article about guest posting, yet they still don’t pay attention to it.
For that reason, I wanted to write a post that identifies what to do, and what not to do when pitching a guest post at Location Rebel (or other blogs). From there, I want to take it a step further and look at how to make the most of your post, once you do land a spot on a big blog.
Note: If you want to guest post for Location Rebel, follow these guidelines.
What is Guest Posting (or Guest Blogging)
Before we go too far down the guest post rabbit hole, it’s important to establish what it is.
Guest posting is when you write a blog post for someone else’s website.
The goal is to create a win/win/win scenario:
- The audience gets a fresh voice and useful content
- The other blogger gets free content for their site that can help in search rankings
- You get exposure to a new audience and a link back to your website to also help with SEO
When it works, it works really well.
However, there are a lot of people who have tried to take advantage of this, which has made finding those perfect “win/win/win” scenarios much more difficult than it used to be.
So before we look at how to be successful guest posting, we need to look at a few things you should not do.
Two Terrible Guest Post Pitches
First off I want to take a look at two different types of pitches that I receive daily. On the surface one may seem worse than the other, but let me assure you, both are equally as bad.
1) The Spam Pitch
Over half of the posts I receive look exactly like this one I got this morning:
My name is Scarlet I would like to share a high quality content on your website.Let me know if you can offer me the opportunity and what will be the criteria for it
Awaiting your response.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Scarlet, is a fantastic writer and would have all sorts of fantastic thoughts to provide the Location Rebel community – but, no….
If you have a blog of any size you’ve undoubtedly seen these spammy types of guest post pitches. It’s people like this who have pushed the industry so far as for Matt Cutt’s to say Guest Posting is Dead.
While I disagree with him (a topic for another post), it’s clear that a lot of spammers are trying to game the system.
But this is to be expected. I’ve always gotten emails like this, and always will. You know, the one that isn’t personalized, has a generic question, and uses a fake name.
(See video above)
That’s all that needs to happen there.
However most of you will never send an email as atrocious as this – or at least you better not.
#2) The ‘Let Me Do You a Favor’ Pitch
That said, there is a chance you’ll send an email that looks like this one which I got last week:
I’ve been reading Location Rebel for the last couple years, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your articles. I’ve enjoyed them so much that I really want to give back to the Location Rebel community. I was thinking I could write a guest post about how to quit your job and build a business. What do you say? Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re helping tons of people!
Now on the surface, the other one might seem worse, as this was at least personalized. But in my mind, this is a terrrrrible pitch.
Why? Let’s dissect.
- “I want to give back to the Location Rebel community.” – People say this ALL. THE. TIME. in their pitches. And no, more often than not, you don’t want to give back, you want to get access to my audience to grow your own business. Don’t insult me by saying that the only thing you want out of this is to “give back.”
- I want to write “How to quit your job and build a business.” If that isn’t the most generic pitch of all time, I don’t know what is. Great! You can read the tagline for the site. There was nothing personal about this, and you didn’t even make an attempt to get creative with a new idea.
- Personal, but not personal. You say you’ve read the articles. Which ones? How have they had an impact on you? Be specific so that I know you’re not full of shit.
- Didn’t make any attempt to build rapport. This particular person had never emailed me before, never left and comment, and never bought a product of mine. Now I totally get that many (most) blog readers do it from the sidelines, but to come out and ask like this, without even attempting to build rapport with me is a little frustrating.
Now I don’t mean to sound like a total asshole, because I appreciate emails from readers more than just about anything else in my business.
I love building the relationships and getting to know you and your stories.
But this particular email all seemed fake to me. If I’d seen even a single comment or tweet from you over the last few years, I might believe you, but this one seems like you were pretty much only out for your own gain.
Now that we’ve seen two examples of what not to do with a guest post, let’s look at how to craft a pitch so beautiful and personal that blogs will be throwing themselves at you for your services.
Ok, well maybe not throwing themselves at you. But you’ll at least increase your success rate!
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Key Elements of a Successful Guest Post Pitch
The More Rapport the Better
The chances are, you won’t personally know every single person that you pitch. But, the more rapport you can build in the process, the better.
In the week or two leading up to your pitch, here are a couple things you should do:
- Comment on their blog
- Engage them on twitter
- Potentially start an email conversation
Garrin Etcheberry started emailing me maybe a year ago. He never asked for anything, just built rapport and talked about shared interests. When he finally asked to do a guest post, I was more than happy to host him because I knew he’d provide value, and there was a genuine relationship.
You might not have a year to wait, but by commenting on their blog and social media, you’re getting them familiar with who you are. If an email comes in and they see your name, there’s a good chance they’ll recognize it – so when you tell them you’re a big fan, they’ll actually believe you.
Whenever Possible, Be Their Best Case Study
The single best way to connect with someone online is simple: follow their advice and have success.
The very best emails I get are from Location Rebel Academy members that said “I follow your advice in the course, I had success, and it’s all thanks to you.”
There isn’t a single blogger or business owner who doesn’t want to hear that.
And what’s my natural reaction when someone has an experience like that? To share it.
Not only did you change your life for the better, but you’re also making me look good in the process! That makes me much more likely to want to host you on the site, or share you’re story.
Here’s a great example of that:
So to be crystal clear, if you have a favorite blogger you want to write for, one of the easiest things you can do is put into action what they tell you to do – and then tell them about it!
You’re making them look good, providing a useful how to for their audience, and positioning yourself as an expert – it’s a win/win/win.
Give Them Options, and Never Write the Post First
The best pitches I get usually give me an option to choose what I think is going to be the best fit for my site. I know better than anyone what posts I’ve written in the past, and which ones have done the best.
If you only give me one idea, and I know it’s something that won’t work well, I’ll probably just say “sorry I don’t think that’s a good fit” and puts you in the tough spot of trying to pitch me again.
That said, if you have 3 killer headline ideas, you can share the three each with a one sentence description, and thus make it much easier for me to say yes to one of those ideas.
Guest Post Pitch Template
Here’s an example of what a really good guest pitch might look like. You’ll obviously need to tweak it based on the specific blog and your relationship with them, but just try and keep some of these concepts in mind during the pitch.
My name is ______ and I’ve been reading Location Rebel for the last two years. I first got hooked by reading your post “The 13 Approaches to Quitting Your Job” back in 2012. I used your “globetrotter” method to not only leave my job, but remain on great terms with everyone at the company in the process – so thank you for that!
I’ve got a relatively new site that focuses specifically on ________, and I’m trying to get my name out there as best I can. I had a couple ideas for guest posts that I thought might be a really good fit for Location Rebel. Totally cool if not, but let me know if you think any of these might be a valuable to your audience:
- How I Quit My Job in 31 Days (And Retained My Boss As a Freelance Client) – This is about how within 31 days of reading your post I left my job, and am still able to work with my old boss on a freelance basis (that actually pays more money!).
- 7 Ways I Became a Productivity Machine After I Became A Solopreneur – For the first 2 months of working on my own, I was a mess, and got very little done. Then I made these 7 changes and now not only am I more productive, but my business has doubled.
- How My Extremely Tiny Niche Makes Me Big Income (And How to Find Your Niche) – I found a niche so small that most people would never think of building a business around it – yet it’s worked really well for me. I’ve also built a process for finding these niches I’ve taught to 3 other people who are experiencing similar success.
Thanks for all that you do, and even if none of these posts are appealing I hope we can stay in touch, as I owe a big part of where I am to your blog posts and guidance.
All the best,
If someone sent me this email, even if I’d never talked to them before, there’s a good chance I’d have them write the article. It would show they respected my time and advice, understand the blog audience, and aren’t trying to hide the fact they want to post to grow their own thing (everyone does).
And they also used my secret weapon phrase for pitches:
What to Do Once You Land the Guest Post
Ok, so now you’ve got your pitch honed and you’re ready to go out on a guest posting binge. How do you actually make sure that you’re leveraging the opportunity to its full potential? The worst thing you could do is prime yourself to receive a bunch of new traffic, and then not have any way of capturing the it!
Let’s look at a few strategies for how to make sure your post is most effective for you and the person your writing for.
Mention the Blog Author and Link Back to Their Posts
Once you write the post, there’s also one big thing you can do to make sure the post carries favor with the blog owner.
Mention them in the post.
The guest posts that I’m the most happy with recognize that Location Rebel has a lot of valuable content. So when they refer to me by name in the post, and even better, link back to a few of my old blog posts that might be relevant, it shows respect and that they’ve done their research.
I’m much more likely to work with a person who does this to make sure the post goes up, then someone who doesn’t say anything about myself or the site. In this regard, a little ego stroking goes a long way (just being honest here!).
Link out to all kinds of relevant resources, not just your own stuff
With guest posts, I want people that can come in and give my readers a step by step guide for how to do something unique. John Lee Dumas wrote specifics on how he grew his podcast to over 400k downloads a month. Kevin Cole wrote about how we went from zero to $3k doing SEO writing.
These were very detailed.
However, I’m a realist. I know that you can’t write everything there is to know on a topic in a single blog post. However you can position that post as the definitive resource on that topic by linking out to other relevant articles.
I love seeing a step by step guide that tells you what to do, and then for each step there are 3 links to other sites that walk you through exactly how to do it. So if you know of the perfect resource for this, that’s on a competing blog, don’t be afraid to share it.
…But still link to your own stuff as well
When you write for me, I want to see you get as much value out of it as possible. So if you have 2-3 blog posts that go more in depth on something you mention, totally share it! Be selective, and don’t abuse the privilege – but the easiest way for me to repay the favor of creating valuable content for my audience, is to make sure you benefit as well.
Create a Custom Offer for Their Audience
This is huge and an incredible win/win opportunity.
In your bio at the end (or beginning) of the post, instead of just linking back to your homepage, create a special landing page just for readers of their site – and give them something.
Maybe it’s a book or course you typically charge for. Perhaps it’s a checklist you wrote just for them. Whatever it is make it relevant to your article and something of value.
They can get it simply by signing up for your email list.
How well this works will depend on the site you’re doing it for, and some site owners won’t be cool with this strategy. If that’s the case, no problem! Be respectful and follow their posting guidelines.
Moving Forward With Your Guest Posting Strategy
I personally have found guest posting to be the absolute best way of growing a blog or business. You’re getting high quality links, building relationships, and generating traffic to your site – all in one fell swoop!
Just remember to keep one important thing in mind as you begin pitching posts: Both the author you’re pitching and their readers are all real people.
It’s easy to get lost behind a computer screen and forget this. Everything you pitch or write will be read by real people, just like you and me! So treat them all as such. Don’t try and get away with spammy mass pitches. Don’t write a half ass guest post that doesn’t provide any value to the people reading it. Do be genuine and thoughtful.
If you do this, amazing things will happen.
With that said, I’m always looking for high quality guest posts to feature on the site. You may have noticed, there have been more on here lately than usual.
Because there are so many people in this community that we can all learn from. I’ve been writing about my transition and business for nearly 5 years(!). There are a lot of others who have really interesting insights for how they’ve grown their business over the past year. Everyone has a different approach, and I want to highlight as many of those as possible.
So I’ve been really pleased to see so many people benefitting from the guest posts that have gone up.
Have a great idea you want to share with us? Let me know!
A Few More Resources to Help You Land Guest Posts
Looking for some more helpful content to help you with your pitch? Check these out:
- How to Send a Cold Pitch Email (And Why Most People are TERRIBLE at it) – Mastering the cold pitch is crucial to success with guest posting. This shows you the basics of how to do it.
- 17 Ways to Land High Paying Writing Work – This is framed for freelance work, but the concepts are very similar.
And if you’re cool thinking outside the box? Watch this video and think about it from the reference point of guest posting:
Sean OgleSean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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